Netherlands: Epidurals on the increase

Interested in home birth, hospital birth or private midwifery care? Questions or comments? Email Melissa Maimann or call 0400 418 448. I'm sad that it's happening, even in the Netherlands. I understand the caesarean rate is around 25% too.

A growing number of Dutch women are opting to have epidural anaesthesia during childbirth ...

The Netherlands has one of the highest rates of home births in the developed world. Around a third of all births take place at home. A similar proportion of pregnant women plan to give birth at home if all goes well, but on the basis of the midwife’s risk assessment they transfer to hospital during labour.

The Dutch home birth system isn’t the product of any recent move towards de-medicalisation and natural birth – it’s simply that many Dutch women still give birth at home the way their grandmothers did ...

The Dutch midwives association argues in favour of seeing childbirth as a natural process rather than a medical condition. It points out that home births result in a much lower rate of unnecessary medical intervention, which is safer for both mother and child. However, in recent years the Dutch system has increasingly come under attack. Critics claim it is old-fashioned, and women are being denied proper access to pain relief.

In 2008, the teaching hospital in Maastricht reported that 25 per cent of women opted to have an epidural. A year later this figure has risen to more than 30 percent ... the Dutch epidural rate has a long way to go before it matches ... some hospitals ... [where] as many as 85 percent of women in labour opt for an epidural.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448